Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham
Contact: Committee Services 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 1 September 2011.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 1 September 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)
To receive apologies for absence and to note substitute Members in attendance.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr Gilbert and Mrs Matthews. Mr Bambridge was present as substitute for Mrs Matthews.
Urgent Business (Agenda Item 3)
To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 4)
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda. The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a person or prejudicial interest.
Mr Bambridge and Mr Kiddle-Morris declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 9 (Drainage & Flooding) by virtue of being Executive Members of the Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board.
Mr Rogers declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 10 (Town & Village Greens Consultation) by virtue of being Chairman of the Norfolk County Council Planning (Regulatory) Committee.
Mrs Jolly declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 9 (Drainage & Flooding) by virtue of being a member of the East Harling Internal Drainage Board.
Mr Cowen declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 (Draft National Planning Framework) by virtue of being an architect in practice in the district.
Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)
To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.
Councillor Bowes, Mr Borrett, Mr T Carter, Mr Claussen, Mr Duigan, Councillor Gould, Mr Jermy, Mrs Jolly, Mr Kiddle-Morris, Mr Martin, Mrs North, Mr W Richmond, Mr S Rogers, Mrs Turner and Mr Wassell were in attendance.
Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)
Lynda Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within her portfolio and to answer any questions.
Mrs Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services had been invited to update the Commission on current issues within her portfolio.
She explained that it was a wide ranging portfolio which she had taken over in May and it had been a rapid learning curve. She updated Members on the key issues under the headings of Communities and Environmental Services.
The Arts and Sports programme offered residents of all ages a wide range of activities and since April over 6,000 had taken part. The Breckland Book Festival was about to launch. Successful funding bids had provided £6,000 for the budget for the next year.
The LSP and Pride Group worked hand in hand and efforts were being made to minimise bureaucracy and reduce duplication. The Pride brand was well recognised in the community. The 12 Days of Christmas was a project aimed at encouraging goodwill and support for local groups and charities within the Breckland area.
The Community Safety Team was delivering quality work which had been recognised by other authorities. Joint working enabled a quick response to problems.
Consultations were taking place to investigate the possibility of providing CCTV input to South Holland District Council.
The Youth and Older People’s Forums were well supported. 45 applications had been received for the current vacancies on the Youth Council.
The recent Older People’s Forum had been a success with very positive feedback. A shadow Committee had been formed and there would be an Annual General Meeting held in the New Year.
The Environmental Awareness Officers had moved up to join the Community Services Team and they were currently working on the Jubilee Wood Project.
The Communities Team was undergoing a complete restructure.
The Officer Team had been restructured from 8.5 to 5 full time members of staff.
The possibility of offering Enforcement help to South Holland in exchange for assistance with carbon restructuring was being discussed.
Problems with litter and fly-tipping needed a cultural change and one option being considered for dealing with offenders was Restorative Justice, in place of a fine. Fly-tippers would still be prosecuted where appropriate.
The extension to the Serco contract would be discussed at the Commission meeting on 17 November 2011. The current contract ran until 2015 with the potential for a ten year extension.
There had been a lot of talk about the additional £250million allocation for waste collections, on the news. Residents views would be sought in response to that, but when consulted previously residents had opted for a fortnightly collection and there was a very small complaint rate associated with that service.
Mr Rogers asked if the Council would be entitled to a share of the £250million if they opted to stay with fortnightly collections and the Executive Member agreed to find out.
The Vice-Chairman drew attention to a fly-tipping problem in Dereham which he was having problems resolving because it was taking ... view the full minutes text for item 76.
To receive an update.
The Chairman noted that the Chief Executive of the Water Management Alliance had been invited to address the Commission at 3 o’clock (for Agenda Item 9) and so the order of agenda items might need to be changed to accommodate his presentation.
The Principal Planner presented the report on what he described as a significant national consultation which had generated a lot of debate. The draft sought to consolidate the existing Planning Policy Statements, Circulars, etc, which ran to about 1000 pages, into 58 pages covering six broad areas. The consultation ended on 17 October. It was therefore imperative that given the emphasis on planning at the local level in the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) that Breckland Council responded to the consultation.
The Principal Planner drew Members’ attention to pages 154 to 156 of the agenda supplement where the issues were set out. The supplement also contained the Officer’s draft response to the technical questionnaire and he sought Members’ input to that.
The Chairman encouraged Members to put forward their views to assist the Executive Member in formulating his response. It was noted that the draft consultation was aimed at all levels of authority and therefore some items did not apply to district councils.
Mr Borrett noted that only two options were provided, either to supplement the draft NPF or to make no comment. He suggested that a third option should be added to allow alterations or changes.
Mr Kiddle-Morris (the Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development, responsible for responding to the consultation) said that he was willing to take any comments.
Mr Borrett did not agree with most of the Officer’s responses. He thought that there was a lot of good in the document and felt that the responses did not reflect his opinion.
Other Members agreed and the Chairman suggested that they should put proposals forward.
The Vice-Chairman said that Members were there to express their views whether they concurred with the Officer’s or not. The proposal to add a third option was seconded and agreed.
The Chairman asked the Executive Member for his comments and Mr Kiddle-Morris gave his overview. He felt that the draft was a very broad brush which would allow the current Core Strategy and Development Control Policies to be turned into a Local Plan that would accord with what Breckland wanted.
Mr Byrne asked what the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ meant.
The Principal Planner acknowledged that the key issue at the operational level would be defining sustainable development. At a local level, significant evidence of housing, employment and environment needs would provide the corner stone for a local definition.
Mr Kiddle-Morris pointed out that the LDF defined sustainable development but not as the Council wanted it. The draft suggested that a definition needed to be in place. He thought care was needed to avoid a definition that would not apply in rural areas. The NPF should allow houses and employment to be put where they were needed and wanted. ... view the full minutes text for item 77.
Report of the Assistant Director for Democratic Services.
The Senior Procurement and Performance Officer presented the Draft Corporate Plan 2011-2015 which described the main areas of focus for the Council over the next four years.
The priorities and aims followed closely on from those contained within the previous Corporate Plan and had been updated and refreshed following changes in central Government and the local elections.
The Plan was available for the public on the website and for Officers on the Intranet. A link had also been distributed to all Members and Parish Clerks to ensure a comprehensive consultation process.
Comments received via the Consultation and from the Commission would accompany the final report and draft plan when it was presented to Cabinet for their consideration.
RESOLVED that the recommendations be noted.
Mr Phil Camamoile, Chief Executive of the Water Management Alliance, will be in attendance. The Planning Manager and Principal Planning Policy Officer have also been invited to attend.
Mr Phil Camamile, Chief Executive of the Water Management Alliance, thanked Members for the opportunity to talk to them.
Members were shown two maps (attached for information). The first showed the Norfolk County Council constituent IDBs and the second showed IDBs within the Breckland boundary. The Drainage Boards were responsible for ordinary water courses – not main rivers, which came under the authority of the Environment Agency.
There were 22 Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) in Norfolk which fell into five groups. The Water Management Alliance covered about 20%. The areas covered were those where the theoretical risk of flooding was the greatest. However, because those areas were managed, the risk of flooding was actually low.
For the areas outside the IDBs the Council had authority and the power to make byelaws to protect activities in and alongside watercourses. However, byelaws tended to be applied inconsistently. Often it was water from developments outside the drainage areas that caused problems and that was difficult to control.
Mr Camamile suggested that there were two potential answers to the Council’s drainage problems. They could either adopt byelaws, and the Water Management Alliance would be happy to help with that; or they could extend the areas of the Drainage Boards to the full extent of the water table. The Norfolk Rivers Board would welcome the opportunity to work closely with the Council.
Mr Borrett noted that he was the Council’s (unpaid) appointee to the Norfolk Rivers IDB which he said was amazingly effective, important and efficient. It had a lot of local knowledge and was very low cost to run. He wholeheartedly supported the proposal to extend the boundaries of the IDBs as it would reduce the burden on the Council.
Mr Camamile clarified that the Council paid the Norfolk Rivers IDB £45,000 per year and received 83% of that back from central Government so the net cost was only £8,300.
Mr Bambridge was interested in the catchment areas of the IDBs. He thought it was vital that they had influence outside their areas as that was often where problems came from.
Mr Camamile agreed. Extending IDB areas would also allow them to collect drainage money from agricultural users who currently paid the Environment Agency and it would give control to local people.
Mrs Jolly asked what connection the IDBs had with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency with regard to sewage and drainage.
Mr Camamile explained that the aim was to work together when possible, but it depended on how pro-active each IDB was. The Norfolk Flood Risk Management Partnership, set up by Norfolk County Council, was the lead local flood authority and involved all the operating agencies and should ensure integration.
Mr Kiddle-Morris noted that at Norfolk County Council the importance of the local knowledge of IDBs was stressed. However, his main concern was that IDBs were not statutory planning consultees and he thought that they should be. He also agreed that their areas of control should be extended. ... view the full minutes text for item 79.
To receive information about the consultation on changes to the registration of town and village greens.
The Strategic Property Manager explained the background to the consultation on the Registration of Town and Village Greens by central Government which was aimed at improving the balance between protecting open spaces and enabling development.
Currently anyone could apply to register a piece of land and if approved it provided the highest level of protection against development. Concerns had been raised about the number of applications being made as the cost was borne by taxpayers. The proposal was to introduce a Local Green Space designation in the Planning Framework. The criteria were explained. It was also proposed to offer landowners some protection and to introduce fees for the applicant.
It was considered that a response should be made by the Council, but the timeframe was short as the consultation closed on 17 October 2011. Members were asked for their views.
The Chairman asked why the Council had not been made aware of the consultation earlier and was advised that the letters from DEFRA had not been sent to District Councils although their responses would be welcomed.
Members agreed that a letter of complaint should be sent to DEFRA about the lack of consultation direct to District and Parish Councils.
The Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development noted that some areas used as Open Space had never actually been recognised as such under the Local Plan. The current process was one-sided and provided no protection for landowners. He considered that the proposals would make the system fairer for both sides.
The Chairman drew attention to the questions which had been summarised on pages 147 and 148 of the agenda. He asked Members for their comments.
Mr Bambridge suggested that the proposal to charge a fee for applications at Question 10 should be supported and that the applicant should bear the charge. He also felt that the proposed ceiling of £1000 for that fee (at Question 12) was not enough for larger pieces of land. He thought that any application for a Village Green should have the agreement of the landowner.
The Chairman summed up the Commission’s comments which in broad terms were supportive of the document subject to the following caveats:
The Executive Member noted that comments would also be sought from the Housing and Planning departments but he did not envisage them overturning the Commission’s recommendations.
The Chairman asked for the comments to be passed to the Leader of the Council as he might decide to delegate authority to respond as the timeframe closed before the next Cabinet meeting.
Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 11)
To consider reports from Task & Finish Group Chairmen in respect of the following meetings:
Parking Task & Finish Group
To note the Membership of the Dereham Parking Review Task & Finish Group:
Shirley Matthews – Chairman
The first meeting of the Group will take place on Friday 14 October 2011 at 10.00am in the Anglia Room.
The arrangements for the first meeting of the Dereham Parking Review were noted. Mr Duigan was added to the Group’s membership.
Bunker and Business Continuity Task & Finish Group
The first meeting of the Bunker and Business Continuity Task & Finish Group will take place on 13 October 2011.
The following items have been identified for consideration:
1. Review current and future use of the Emergency Centre (Bunker) as part of emergency response.
2. Examine joint working issues.
3. In the light of a conclusion from 1 and 2, access, welfare, and other issues.
4. Appropriateness for use as a document store, and alternatives.
5. Review of business continuity arrangements and the possible need for back-up generator(s) at Breckland Offices.
6. To scrutinise the recent flooding issue at Breckland House, Thetford
7. Assessment of Risk, particularly the Fire Risk and the impact on the Deed Store
Membership of the Group will be confirmed at the meeting.
Mr C Carter was added to the Group’s membership.
Mr Kybird advised that the areas to be addressed had been slightly extended to include looking at the storage facilities in the Bunker and at business continuity matters.
Mr Kybird and Mr Rose had visited the bunker. Arrangements had been changed, following that visit, to reduce fire risk to the records stored there. Access had been limited and it was considered that the Asset department had provided a strong and proper response to the concerns raised.
The Deputy Chief Executive asked Members to look at the future use of the bunker for file storage, not just as an emergency facility.
The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development advised that there would be costs associated with using the bunker, but as documents were currently being stored in rented premises their transfer to the bunker would reduce costs.
Mr Bambridge noted that the Business Improvement & Projects Sub-Committee had strongly recommended the provision of a generator in respect of business continuity and asked for that to also be considered by the Group.
It was confirmed that the Group would look at the two distinct issues of the Bunker and Business Continuity and that Breckland House in Thetford would also be included in the Business Continuity considerations, due to problems with flooding there.
The arrangements for the first meeting were noted.
Health & Scrutiny (Agenda Item 12)
To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.
Mr Kybird advised Members that he and Lady Fisher had attended a training session which had been quite useful. He would bring any matters of note from the next Health & Scrutiny meeting to the Commission in November.
Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 13)
To note whether any decisions have been called-in for scrutiny.
Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 14)
To consider any references.
(a) A copy of the Commission’s work programme is attached. The Commission is asked to agree any additions, deletions or amendments to the programme as appropriate.
(b) Member Issues: In accordance with the Commission’s protocol for member leadership, which states that members of the Commission will take the lead in selecting topics for overview and scrutiny and in the questioning of witnesses, members are invited to put forward items for selection for future review.
The Chairman suggested that the Environment Agency to be invited to the special Utility meeting to be held in December. Anglian Water had been invited to attend that meeting and representatives from the energy suppliers would also be invited.
Mr Rogers asked for sewage and flooding issues should be included and the Chairman said they would be discussed at the December meeting and that power and telecommunications might also be included making it a Utilities and Statutory Service Providers meeting.
Mr Kybird raised the problem of accidents occurring due to the street lights in Thetford being turned off between midnight and 8.00am. He thought that large items of street furniture should have reflective tape around them. The Chairman suggested that he should speak to the relevant Executive Member about his concerns.
The November agenda was full with several large items on housing and the Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services would be in attendance.
The Chairman thanked all of the additional Members that had come to the meeting. He said that it was important for Officers to see how seriously Members took the Plan and the future.
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 16)
To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 17 November 2011 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham NR19 1EE.
The arrangements for the next meeting on 17 November 2011 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, were noted.